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Kafui Dzirasa

Assistant Professor, Departments of Neurobiology, Biomedical Engineering, and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center

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 Kafui Dzirasa Biography

Kafui Dzirasa completed a PhD in Neurobiology at Duke University. His research interests focus using neural technology to understanding how changes in the brain produce mental illness. In 2009, Dzirasa obtained an MD from the Duke University School of Medicine. He was subsequently appointed as an assistant professor. Dzirasa has participated in numerous programs geared towards exposing youth to science and technology and providing health education for underserved communities. He was awarded the One Mind Rising Star Award, and his laboratory was featured on CBS 60 Minutes in 2011. In 2016, he was awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

Kafui is a product of the nationally renowned Meyerhoff Scholarship program at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). Kafui Dzirasa is the first African American to complete a PhD in Neurobiology at Duke University. His research interests focus on understanding how changes in the brain produce neurological and mental illness. In 2009, Kafui obtained an MD from the Duke University School of Medicine.

I grew into my field from a love of math. I had no idea what research or a PhD was until I got to UMBC. I just knew that I liked playing on the computer, and I had a gift for math. I had no idea how to develop a career in it. It’s because of UMBC and the Meyerhoff program that I am doing research now. By training I am a chemical engineer, I did medical school at Duke and I have a PhD in neurobiology. I spend most of my time doing brain-machine interface which is health-related engineering. It is more neurobiology than bio-engineering but, I use a lot of engineering principles to learn how the brain works.

The area that I work in is called neuroengineering. It’s basically understanding how the brain produces behavior and integrating that with external devices that enable things like brain machine interface. So the ultimate goal for me is to be able to understand how psychiatric illness changes the brain and then to create technological devices with which you can fix the circuit deficits in psychiatric illness. I’m correlating differences in behavior that I can induce by changing genes or giving drugs with electrical patterns. Analyzing the electrical patterns is all math, so I spend much more time behind the computer and in the math lab than I do with the animals.

What I actually do is put lots of wires into the animals’ heads – the size of a piece of hair – and I record the changes in how the cells activate. We see differences in an animal that gets PCP, LSD or amphetamines but you can get actually a little more sophisticated than that. What you can do with mice is create genetic lines of mice that express genes that aren’t human. You can take a gene from a human that is implicated in schizophrenia, or a human schizophrenic gene, and put it into a mouse. When the mouse grows up it starts expressing these behaviors that are different so it does not learn as well, it’s much more jittery then other mice and you can basically study how the brains of these mice are different when they have this human schizophrenic gene. Ultimately we use tools to manipulate electricity in the brain with the goal of correcting the behavioral differences.

My greatest challenge was medical school. As an engineer, much of what we’re taught in training is to work in groups, and you never memorize anything, you focus on basic concepts and learn how to derive principals from them. As a medical student, you have to memorize a lot. So it was a tremendous transition for me, learning out how to navigate a different arena given that all of my training was contrary to what I was being asked to do.

One day I realized while sitting in class, that the concepts were going by so fast, I couldn’t tell what was important and what I had to memorize and what was a core principal. So I literally stopped going to class. The eight hours a day that I spent in class, I didn’t learn anything. I had to go home and study and so eventually it became extremely ineffective. So I spent the class time actually studying, and I found that I would acquire the information much better. In the end it was a challenge of just becoming comfortable with my own learning style.

Over time my work ethic has improved, in high school I didn’t believe in really doing homework, studying or anything else for that matter. The Meyerhoff program was especially good for this, where I learned how to take skills from the athletic arena and apply them to the academic side as well. Even with track there is an understanding that the harder you work the better you can get. You don’t have to win every time, you just have to get better every time and eventually you win. Learning how to help yourself improve, working with others and generating team goals where a lot of people are working towards the same objectives and I think those things were really helpful for me.

The most important advice I can offer young people is to find mentors, lots of them. The challenge is to surround yourself with mentors that are successful. It doesn’t matter what they’re doing, the principle is that everyone who is successful knows one way to be successful. It’s your goal to extract successful habits and then integrate them into your style And with regards to my field, but also life in general, you’re going to have to have thick skin. Because you’re going to be entering into an arena where not many people look like you, and there will not be many people that believe in you. Just remember: you don’t have to change everyone’s opinion, you just have to stay focused on what you’re trying to accomplish, and trust that everyone else will get it a little bit later.

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FAQs
  • HOW TO BOOK Kafui Dzirasa?

    Our booking agents have successfully helped clients around the world secure talent like Kafui Dzirasa for speaking engagements, personal appearances, product endorsements, or corporate entertainment for over 15 years. The team at All American Entertainment represents and listens to the needs of organizations and corporations seeking to hire keynote speakers, celebrities or entertainers. Fill out a booking request form for Kafui Dzirasa, or call our office at 1.800.698.2536 to discuss your upcoming event. One of our experienced agents will be happy to help you get pricing information and check availability for Kafui Dzirasa or any other celebrity of your choice.
  • HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO BOOK Kafui Dzirasa?

    Booking fees for Kafui Dzirasa, or any other speakers and celebrities, are determined based on a number of factors and may change without notice. Pricing often varies according to the circumstances, including the talent's schedule, market conditions, length of presentation, and the location of the event. Speaker fees listed on this website are intended to serve as a guideline only. In some cases, the actual quote may be above or below the stated range. For the most current fee to hire Kafui Dzirasa, please fill out the booking request form or call our office at 1.800.698.2536 to speak with an experienced booking agent.
  • WHO IS THE AGENT FOR Kafui Dzirasa?

    All American Entertainment has successfully secured celebrity talent like Kafui Dzirasa for clients worldwide for more than 15 years. As a full-service talent booking agency, we have access to virtually any speaker or celebrity in the world. Our agents are happy and able to submit an offer to the speaker or celebrity of your choice, letting you benefit from our reputation and long-standing relationships in the industry. Fill out the booking request form or call our office at 1.800.698.2536, and one of our agents will assist you to book Kafui Dzirasa for your next private or corporate function.
  • WHAT IS A FULL-SERVICE TALENT BOOKING AGENCY?

    All American Speakers is a "buyers agent" and exclusively represents talent buyers, meeting planners and event professionals, who are looking to secure celebrities and speakers for personal appearances, speaking engagements, corporate entertainment, public relations campaigns, commercials, or endorsements. We do not exclusively represent Kafui Dzirasa or claim ourselves as the exclusive booking agency, business manager, publicist, speakers bureau or management for Kafui Dzirasa or any other speaker or celebrity on this website. For more information on how we work and what makes us unique, please read the AAE Advantage.
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This website is a resource for event professionals and strives to provide the most comprehensive catalog of thought leaders and industry experts to consider for speaking engagements. A listing or profile on this website does not imply an agency affiliation or endorsement by the talent.

All American Entertainment (AAE) exclusively represents the interests of talent buyers, and does not claim to be the agency or management for any speaker or artist on this site. AAE is a talent booking agency for paid events only. We do not handle requests for donation of time or media requests for interviews, and cannot provide celebrity contact information.

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Kafui Dzirasa

Assistant Professor, Departments of Neurobiology, Biomedical Engineering, and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center

Travels From:
Durham, NC, USA
Speaking Fee:

Kafui Dzirasa Biography

Kafui Dzirasa completed a PhD in Neurobiology at Duke University. His research interests focus using neural technology to understanding how changes in the brain produce mental illness. In 2009, Dzirasa obtained an MD from the Duke University School of Medicine. He was subsequently appointed as an assistant professor. Dzirasa has participated in numerous programs geared towards exposing youth to science and technology and providing health education for underserved communities. He was awarded the One Mind Rising Star Award, and his laboratory was featured on CBS 60 Minutes in 2011. In 2016, he was awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

Kafui is a product of the nationally renowned Meyerhoff Scholarship program at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). Kafui Dzirasa is the first African American to complete a PhD in Neurobiology at Duke University. His research interests focus on understanding how changes in the brain produce neurological and mental illness. In 2009, Kafui obtained an MD from the Duke University School of Medicine.

I grew into my field from a love of math. I had no idea what research or a PhD was until I got to UMBC. I just knew that I liked playing on the computer, and I had a gift for math. I had no idea how to develop a career in it. It’s because of UMBC and the Meyerhoff program that I am doing research now. By training I am a chemical engineer, I did medical school at Duke and I have a PhD in neurobiology. I spend most of my time doing brain-machine interface which is health-related engineering. It is more neurobiology than bio-engineering but, I use a lot of engineering principles to learn how the brain works.

The area that I work in is called neuroengineering. It’s basically understanding how the brain produces behavior and integrating that with external devices that enable things like brain machine interface. So the ultimate goal for me is to be able to understand how psychiatric illness changes the brain and then to create technological devices with which you can fix the circuit deficits in psychiatric illness. I’m correlating differences in behavior that I can induce by changing genes or giving drugs with electrical patterns. Analyzing the electrical patterns is all math, so I spend much more time behind the computer and in the math lab than I do with the animals.

What I actually do is put lots of wires into the animals’ heads – the size of a piece of hair – and I record the changes in how the cells activate. We see differences in an animal that gets PCP, LSD or amphetamines but you can get actually a little more sophisticated than that. What you can do with mice is create genetic lines of mice that express genes that aren’t human. You can take a gene from a human that is implicated in schizophrenia, or a human schizophrenic gene, and put it into a mouse. When the mouse grows up it starts expressing these behaviors that are different so it does not learn as well, it’s much more jittery then other mice and you can basically study how the brains of these mice are different when they have this human schizophrenic gene. Ultimately we use tools to manipulate electricity in the brain with the goal of correcting the behavioral differences.

My greatest challenge was medical school. As an engineer, much of what we’re taught in training is to work in groups, and you never memorize anything, you focus on basic concepts and learn how to derive principals from them. As a medical student, you have to memorize a lot. So it was a tremendous transition for me, learning out how to navigate a different arena given that all of my training was contrary to what I was being asked to do.

One day I realized while sitting in class, that the concepts were going by so fast, I couldn’t tell what was important and what I had to memorize and what was a core principal. So I literally stopped going to class. The eight hours a day that I spent in class, I didn’t learn anything. I had to go home and study and so eventually it became extremely ineffective. So I spent the class time actually studying, and I found that I would acquire the information much better. In the end it was a challenge of just becoming comfortable with my own learning style.

Over time my work ethic has improved, in high school I didn’t believe in really doing homework, studying or anything else for that matter. The Meyerhoff program was especially good for this, where I learned how to take skills from the athletic arena and apply them to the academic side as well. Even with track there is an understanding that the harder you work the better you can get. You don’t have to win every time, you just have to get better every time and eventually you win. Learning how to help yourself improve, working with others and generating team goals where a lot of people are working towards the same objectives and I think those things were really helpful for me.

The most important advice I can offer young people is to find mentors, lots of them. The challenge is to surround yourself with mentors that are successful. It doesn’t matter what they’re doing, the principle is that everyone who is successful knows one way to be successful. It’s your goal to extract successful habits and then integrate them into your style And with regards to my field, but also life in general, you’re going to have to have thick skin. Because you’re going to be entering into an arena where not many people look like you, and there will not be many people that believe in you. Just remember: you don’t have to change everyone’s opinion, you just have to stay focused on what you’re trying to accomplish, and trust that everyone else will get it a little bit later.

FAQs on booking Kafui Dzirasa

  • How to book Kafui Dzirasa?

    Our booking agents have successfully helped clients around the world secure talent like Kafui Dzirasa for speaking engagements, personal appearances, product endorsements, or corporate entertainment for over 15 years. The team at All American Entertainment represents and listens to the needs of organizations and corporations seeking to hire keynote speakers, celebrities or entertainers. Fill out a booking request form for Kafui Dzirasa, or call our office at 1.800.698.2536 to discuss your upcoming event. One of our experienced agents will be happy to help you get pricing information and check availability for Kafui Dzirasa or any other celebrity of your choice.
  • How much does it cost to book Kafui Dzirasa?

    Booking fees for Kafui Dzirasa, or any other speakers and celebrities, are determined based on a number of factors and may change without notice. Pricing often varies according to the circumstances, including the talent's schedule, market conditions, length of presentation, and the location of the event. Speaker fees listed on this website are intended to serve as a guideline only. In some cases, the actual quote may be above or below the stated range. For the most current fee to hire Kafui Dzirasa, please fill out the booking request form or call our office at 1.800.698.2536 to speak with an experienced booking agent.
  • Who is the agent for Kafui Dzirasa?

    All American Entertainment has successfully secured celebrity talent like Kafui Dzirasa for clients worldwide for more than 15 years. As a full-service talent booking agency, we have access to virtually any speaker or celebrity in the world. Our agents are happy and able to submit an offer to the speaker or celebrity of your choice, letting you benefit from our reputation and long-standing relationships in the industry. Fill out the booking request form or call our office at 1.800.698.2536, and one of our agents will assist you to book Kafui Dzirasa for your next private or corporate function.
  • What is a full-service talent booking agency?

    All American Speakers is a "buyers agent" and exclusively represents talent buyers, meeting planners and event professionals, who are looking to secure celebrities and speakers for personal appearances, speaking engagements, corporate entertainment, public relations campaigns, commercials, or endorsements. We do not exclusively represent Kafui Dzirasa or claim ourselves as the exclusive booking agency, business manager, publicist, speakers bureau or management for Kafui Dzirasa or any other speaker or celebrity on this website. For more information on how we work and what makes us unique, please read the AAE Advantage.

Kafui Dzirasa is a keynote speaker and industry expert who speaks on a wide range of topics . The estimated speaking fee range to book Kafui Dzirasa for your event is available upon request. Kafui Dzirasa generally travels from Durham, NC, USA and can be booked for (private) corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. Similar motivational celebrity speakers are Nadine Hachach-Haram, Thomas Insel, Dr. Francis Collins, Kayt Sukel and Sandra Aamodt. Contact All American Speakers for ratings, reviews, videos and information on scheduling Kafui Dzirasa for an upcoming event.

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Speakers Similar to Kafui Dzirasa

This website is a resource for event professionals and strives to provide the most comprehensive catalog of thought leaders and industry experts to consider for speaking engagements. A listing or profile on this website does not imply an agency affiliation or endorsement by the talent.

All American Entertainment (AAE) exclusively represents the interests of talent buyers, and does not claim to be the agency or management for any speaker or artist on this site. AAE is a talent booking agency for paid events only. We do not handle requests for donation of time or media requests for interviews, and cannot provide celebrity contact information.

If you are the talent, and wish to request removal from this catalog or report an issue with your profile, please click here.

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